Wednesday, June 12, 2024

Teen Sentenced to 25 Years for Hate Crime Killing of Latino Immigrant

Yesterday, a jury sentenced a 19 year old Long Island man to the maximum sentence of 25 years in prison for killing Latino immigrant Marcelo Lucero.

As reported in La Plaza,  in November 2008, seven teenagers attacked and killed Lucero, a legal immigrant originally from Ecuador.  The group of friends had set out that evening to engage in what they described as “beaner hopping”.

Jeffrey Conroy, who was 17 and a high school student at the time, was charged with first-degree manslaughter and a hate crime. A jury deliberated for four days before finding him guilty of Lucero’s death as well attempted assault on three other Hispanic men.

Conroy is appealing the conviction and says when he confessed to police that he stabbed Lucero, he was lying to protect another one of the teens in the group.  However, bloodstains on the knife that the police found on him as well as on the clothes he was wearing at the time, matched the victim’s DNA.

At the announcement of his sentencing, Conroy’s father had an outburst in the courtroom and yelled, “This is mercy, for crying out loud?”  The court had received nearly 100 letters in support of the accused with some citing the fact that he has “Hispanic friends” including a Hispanic woman he plans to marry.

Conroy told the judge, “I’m really sorry for what happened to Mr. Lucero.”

The victim’s family was also given an opportunity to express their sentiments.  Lucero’s brother, Joselo, described how his older brother became his role model and father figure after their father died.  He said his brother’s death left him distraught, with nightmares and even thoughts of suicide.

The younger Lucero talked of “the invisibles” – immigrants, both legal and illegal, whom he described as coming to the United States seeking a better life. “I don’t want this hate to continue,” he said.

Isabel Lucero, their sister, said that she did not forgive Conroy and wished he had to be present when they told their mother of the death.

Prior to sentencing, Conroy’s father had reached out to the pastor of Lucero’s church and asked for assistance in convening a meeting with the family.  That meeting had not yet happened, and the Rev. Dwight Lee Wolter worried that the outburst would set the healing process back.

“It’s more polarized now than it was the day of the funeral.  I feel sick to my stomach because of the rage, the pain, the lack of any kind of closure,” he said.

NY Times